“Gang Shorts” – 3rd Collection

Gang Shorts 3
Gang Shorts # 3

Gang Shorts: 3rd Collection
Printed 1945 in England, by Gerald G. Swan.
Published double column, on 36 pages.
Cover price: 7d.

The booklet is comprised of:

  • Black Huntress by Norman C. Pallant
  • Honi Soit… by G. H. Lister
  • The Broken Window Cord by Ronald Horton
  • Sadie Gets Her Story by Stella Dene
  • They Always Get Theirs by Leslie Bussey
  • Roast Beef? Take it Away! by Preston D. Olsen
  • Limited Risk by G. H. Lister

The lead story is Norman C. Pallant’s “Black Huntress.”
Public Enemy No. 1 “Joe Conner” has made a name for himself, making money and slaying his enemies. He thinks his life is 100% positively secure, until a dame in black begins a cross-country chase. Believing her to be the widow of a man he wiped out years ago, he flees to further recesses of the country, and always, he finds her there. While attempting to vanish, he holds up a bank, and, who should walk in but the dame! Pushing his gat into her chest, he threatens to kill her and run with the goods, but the bank teller pumps him full of lead. In conclusion, the police interrogate the woman in black, only to learn that she is an autograph hound!!!

Norman Charles Pallant was born 14 February 1910
in the Hitchin district, died the end of 1972, in the
Haringey district. His literary output, as follows:

Up next is “Honi Soit…” by G. H. Lister.
Montgomery Smith is an Englishman whom has outlived his usefulness as a swindler of his own countryman. Relocating to the United States, he quickly administers thievery and lies, and builds up a rapid reservoir of cash. Looking for bigger game, he convinces a man to pay him an immense amount of dollars, and in return, Smith coughs up a family heirloom, a sword, that when possessed gives the owner the title of an English gentleman. Desiring to be a Lord, the American readily agrees. Smith goes out to a shop, buys an old sword, has a fake certificate created, and the whole process is complete. Things go rapidly wrong when a pair of criminals hold them up for their hard-earned cash. In the process, Smith ends up with the dame, whom is convinced he really is a wealthy Englishman. Fleeing America with the toots, he begins to work on a plan to unload the broad….

Gordon H. Lister was born 1914 and died 1996.
His output seems limited strictly to Swan publications:

Ronald Horton supplies “The Broken Window Cord.”
Ray Lester is gonna hang for attempted murder. But investigator ‘Dad’ Morgan literally finds “holes” in the botched murder scene, and a loose cord in a trunk drilled with air-holes seals the real killer’s fate!

Ronald Harcourt Horton was born Qtr 2, 1902 in the
Solihull district, and died 1987.
While his output appears limited, I suspect he sold stories
to numerous rural newspapers throughout the country.
He also turns in various boys’ annuals.

Stella Dene supplies “Sadie Gets Her Story.”
Blonde bombshell newsgirl Sadie is handed the assignment of bringing back to her paper a real humdinger. While investigating a young man whom appears to be cozying up unflattering-like with the local mob enforcers, Sadie inexplicably finds herself kidnapped, in a case of mistaken identity! While trying to find a means of escape, she contacts her boss and reveals the secret location of the Bronx Gang. The place is raided and she is rescued, in what is otherwise a fairly weak story.

The identity of “Stella Dene” is murky.
What is known is that she (or he?) wrote a handful of
girls’ short stories for the various Swan publications.

Up next is “They Always Get Theirs” by Leslie Bussey.
Lefty leaves his entire life fortune and business to two ex-criminals, whom find themselves currently booted from Lefty’s business by hardier gangsters. Forced out with the option to LIVE or DIE, they choose to live. But, when they receive a copy of the Will, they find themselves in possession of a coded message, that, when deciphered, reveals that the business is a time-bomb, and, if not reset on a regular basis, the entire premises will explode. It does, and takes out all of the criminals in on the initial plot to wipe out Lefty. And the pair of heirs? They play is straight, open and operate a drive-in!

Leslie Bussey’s works appear to be “almost” exclusively
attached to the Swan outfit. Due to the common nature
of his namesake, his birth and death years are unknown.
He also contributed to Swan’s “Detective Album, 1947” and
the “Crime Album, 1947.” I’m not sure about the 1946 editions.

Preston D. Olsen’s “Roast Beef?–Take It Away!” is without meaty substance.
Two thieves snatch a diamond studded ladies’ accessory, break it apart, and hide the diamonds inside a golf ball. Fleeing America in order to sell the diamonds on the black market and avoid another criminal whom is onto them, they find themselves on the short end, crossing an English pasture and pursued by a bull. When the bull smacks the rump of the man possessing the diamonds, he finds himself lacking his own inherited family jewels. Discerning that the bull must have swallowed the bling, they purchase the bull and have it shipped back to America, to be slaughtered. The joke is on them; no golf ball, no jewels. Later, a story circulates in the Odd Column back in England. A bird’s nest was found to contain the golf ball and inside, the diamonds!

The true identity of this author is unknown.
Further, this is the only known tale to appear under this name.

Gang Shorts wraps up with “Limited Risk” by G. H. Lister.
Again returns our lovable criminal-scoundrel, Montgomery Smith. Looking for some fresh excitement in his retirement from criminal activities, Montgomery strolls through Central Park, listening to various orators denouncing this-and-that, and one in particular, is beating the drum against citywide corruption, in the form of a strong-arm faux-insurance broker, named Perelli. Using his enforcers to pressure local small businesses to cough up a percentage of their hard-earned profits towards insurance, this protection racket is beating up resisters and burning out the rest. Smith decides to use his skills to unseat Perelli, by flipping the tables and landing him in jail.

“Gang Shorts” – 3rd Collection

“Detective Pocket” Gerald G. Swan

Detective Pocket

Detective Pocket was published by Gerald G. Swan [circa 1944-1945], boasts 36-pages, and is a 5 x 6 ¼ inch stapled booklet. The action-packed artwork is uncredited.

The contents are as follows:

○ 2 ● Pattern for Murder ● Douglas Stapleton ● nt Crack Detective Stories, 1944 Jan
○ 11 ● How Dead Was My Valet? ● Henry Norton ● ss Crack Detective Stories, 1944 Jan
○ 18 ● “D” for Diamonds and Death ● A. J. Cruse ● ss

As noted above, the lead two tales are actually reprints from an American pulp. The final story is written by British author A. J. Cruse, whom wrote the following known stories, all for Gerald G. Swan (information courtesy of FictionMags Index site).

Pattern for Murder” involves a young man inheriting a property, only to find much of the local townspeople against his presence. His family has a long-standing feud with another family. However, the feud has been nonexistent for decades, until his uncle is found dead. Reportedly dead by suicide, he learns firsthand that his uncle was in fact murdered, when an identical attempt is made on his own life. Performing simple detective-investigative skills, he learns the truth about his family, and who is next in line to inherit, should he die!

How Dead Was My Valet?” is actually quite an idiotic title. The valet is dead. No question. Ward Frame is released from prison, after five years lock-up, to meet with his loyal valet, whom reportedly has information regarding who really stole securities from the bank heist that he was sentenced for stealing. But, when he finds his valet shot dead, twice, above the eyes, he knows he’s in for the hot seat this time. Mere seconds pass and the cops have the house surrounded, and the only footprints on the scene are HIS, as the dust is thick and undisturbed. Refusing to accept the frame-up, he convinces the police to permit him a 24-hour stay, to prove his innocence. Investigating the bank premises, he learns that the bookkeeper fudged the numbers and that the securities are bogus. They never existed!

Cruse’s tale–“‘D’ for Diamonds and Death“–is fun stuff. Multiple murders occurs, beginning in England, when a clerk kills his boss for a recent arrival of diamonds. He in turn is murdered by a sea man. The sea man is slain in New York by the mob. The diamonds end up in the hands of a wealthy, respected citizen, and he in turn is killed by the notorious Shadow. Enlisted to solve the crime is Waring. He interrogates all family and staff on-hand, and narrows it down to a very small list of possibles, but not before someone takes a potshot at him with a poisonous blow dart. There are only two persons present capable of handling the weapon, but which one is guilty?

Both the American reprints and the UK (original?) story hold up well and better yet, if you are interested, this pamphlet DOES turn up from time to time.

“Detective Pocket” Gerald G. Swan

“Siege in Cedar Valley” by John Theydon

MARTIN & REID Siege In Cedar Valley
Siege in Cedar Valley by John Theydon

Siege in Cedar Valley” is a 32-page pamphlet published by Martin & Reid under their Arrow Books western line was written by John Theydon.

I was absolutely looking forward to reading this author again. When was the first? We’d have dial time back to the mid-1990s, when I attended my first PulpCon, which was still being held at Bowling Green, Ohio.

I picked up a battered copy of Round-Up Magazine, and on returning to my room for the night, of all the purchases, this one arrested my eye. On opening the pages, I found that it was not a magazine, despite the cover’s assertion, but, a full-length novel written by John Theydon was featured. It was competently written and had a verifiable plot. As such, John Theydon is one of those authors that I would love to read time and time again. However, locating his vintage westerns isn’t altogether an easy task. That aside…

Siege in Cedar Valley” begins with Jeff Milner assaulting his ranch boss for manhandling a waitress in a bar. A man of strong ethics, he had to act, despite the rest of the crew doing nothing. Discharged from the ranch for assault and informed he’d go without his pay, Milner departs and rides (eventually) toward the ranch to collect his effects.

He overhears an angry conversation ahead, and dismounting, sneaks up, and finds that his erstwhile ex-boss in deep conversation with a slick-dressed man, whom ends up shooting (near-fatally) the ex-boss. Milner draws and shoots the assailant, but fails to nail him, instead shooting off a silver spur of unique design.

Milner checks on the shot man and finds him alive, but in dire straits, when he is inexplicably caught by another rancher and told to drop his hardware. This newcomer claims to the ex-boss that he saw everything, and that it was Milner that done the shooting.

Realizing that he’s been boxed in to take the fall, that the ex-boss was in cahoots with his assailant, and that with the law and judge in his pocket, his life will soon expire at the end of a rope, he lashes out, fights the two off, and escapes under a hail of flying lead.

Heading south, he stops at a border town known to be home to illicit activities and finds the man with the missing silver spur. Unfortunately, he is also recognized and the villains all attempt to take him.

Escaping by jumping into a river and flowing downstream, he clambers out under the cover of darkness and re-infiltrates the town, sodden. Spying the silver-spur man and others departing, he follows the group and learns of a secret cave. Sneaking in, Milner discovers that the slick dude controls a hidden oasis filled with stolen cattle. Overhearing their plans, he learns that they intend to lay siege to Cedar Valley and kill off their boss (Milner’s ex-ranch boss, whom is master of this whole setup). Milner couldn’t really care less about those on the ranch, since they are apparently all crooked, however, there is a girl there that he loves.

Returning to the ranch, he arrives scarcely minutes ahead of the gang. Peering in a window, he sees his ex-boss in bed cared for by a doctor and the crooked sheriff and others present. A gun is shoved into his backside and he’s told to reach. It’s the girl! She spotted him sneaking onto the ranch. Trying to explain his innocence, but she won’t have any of it, he grabs and throws her to the ground as a hail of bullets from the gang herald their arrival. Saving her life, he is rewarded by the sheriff and posse with a bump over the noggin.

Returning to the world of the living, he’s cuffed, and led off to jail. While en route, he learns that the girl was captured by the gang and is being held for $20,000 ransom. The ex-boss won’t pay, which means the gang will all have their way with her until her use(s) have come to an abrupt end.

Hearing from his cell that the town intends to lynch him, he feels small pebbles pelt him fro the cell window. Looking out, he’s nonplussed to spot the girl from the bar trying to save him! Tossing him a revolver and imploring he use it to escape, he does just that, holding up the jailer and escaping.

The entire town gives chase and he leads them directly to the gang’s lair.

The rest is obvious. The gang are busted up, some die reaching rather than hanging, and Milner frees the girl and she inherits the ranch…and needs a good strong man to help her run it. It’s a decent story but deeply restrained by the 32-pages.

The cover art, by illustrator “F. T.,” has zero to do with the content. No such scene ever occurs.

“Siege in Cedar Valley” by John Theydon

Betrayed by David Essex (Curtis Warren Ltd., 1948)

CURTIS WARREN Betrayed by David Essex

Betrayed” by David Essex was published in 1948 by Curtis Warren Ltd. and sports a mediocre illustration by H. W. Perl.

David Essex wrote one novel a year later: Retribution (Curtis Warren Ltd.). Additionally, he crops up twice in 1948 with snippets in Stag Magazine (edited by Bevis Winter).

We are introduced to detective Al Rankin. He’s a scruffy fellow that has little room for nonsense. He gives orders and expects them to be followed. He is currently employed by a large business magnate, paid to keep his employer out of trouble. The trouble? A competitor who he fears will stop at nothing to derail his future business designs.

So, when Rankin is rudely barged in upon by his employer, one Mr. King, he’s hardly in the mood to be nice. King isn’t in any position to be polite either; there’s a dead beauty at his flat, and he claims to be innocent.

Taking King’s wheels out to the flat, they enter and are nonplussed to find…nothing! No body! Just a blood stain where a body should be. And the police are also now on the scene, expecting a body. They give King and Rankin a hard time, but without a body, they can’t detain either one. The pair depart and Rankin suggests a quieter location, perhaps another home that King might own. King acknowledges he has another. They discover the corpse in the back of the car.

Rankin now has his first look at the dame. She’s gorgeous. Or was. Thinking quickly on his feet, Rankin devises a plan to rid themselves of the body while also delivering the body into the hands of the police.

Hiring a crony, they trick the chief investigating officer to pursue the crony out into the middle of nowhere. Then he runs on foot into the woods. While the officers chase him, Rankin drives down to the abandoned police cruiser, dumps the stiffened corpse into their backseat, takes off down the road, picks up his crony, and they speed off.

Unloading his helper, he informs King that the body is unloaded. That stiff off their minds, Rankin settles down to trying to unravel the case. He discovers the identity of the corpse. He soon learns that King secretly has a dame holed up in a suite (King is married). He pays her a visit. Doesn’t like her one bit. Gives her the low-down. Turns out the recently-deceased is this floozie’s younger sister. He departs and waits around the block.

He waits a long time but is finally rewarded. The sister takes a cab, and he follows them. Rankin watches as she enters a building and notes the other two vehicles that are present. Not only is King’s rival present, but so is King’s own operations manager! Sneaking in through the cliché “open-window,” he listens in and learns most of the case.

Leaving the way he entered, he waits again in his car. The woman’s cab is long gone. The girl exits and walks away. He waits until she approaches, nabs and convinces her to get in. Rankin bounces all the evidence off her and she comes undone.

Rankin takes care of the creeps, the girl gets a free pass, and King ceases to play naughty with his innocent wife. Rankin concludes by taking his pay and decides to see a gal out of town.

Betrayed by David Essex (Curtis Warren Ltd., 1948)

Tough on the Wops by Buck Toler


Tough on the Wops was released 1947 under Harold Ernest Kelly’s alias, Buck Toler, via his Robin Hood Press. After this novel, Buck Toler expired and Darcy Glinto once again took center stage, after having not been seen since the war years.

His earlier Buck Toler efforts included:

  • The Bronsville Massacre (Mitre Press, 1943)
  • It’s Only Saps That Die (Everybody’s Books, 1944)
  • Killer on the Run (Everybody’s Books, 1944)

Tough on the Wops would appear one further time, with a crudely constructed cover by Heade, showcasing a young lady holding a Thompson machine gun (a scene from the novel). Whether that edition was a reprint or remainder stock with the original ghastly cover by Hofbauer removed and the Heade attached to help move the rest, I won’t know until I obtain a copy. The scene featured on the Hofbauer cover illustrates the gunning down of Angelo….

Kelly introduces us to a series of hoodlums recently released from prison, with the goal of taking over Woptown, a fictional town heavily populated by Italians, but designed to represent a real American town. In charge is Lugs Heimer, and on one of their first outings, they strike against Angelo, a young man owning a prosperous restaurant. The shop is riddled with bullets and destroyed; more importantly, the polished mobster Fluther is forced to come along for the ride. Primarily, in the past, he is your clean-cut hoodlum, smooth-talker, etc, never gets his hands dirty. However, today, he is pushed into the fracas, and begins to enjoy the ruthlessness and destruction.

Days later, Fluther is sent to blackmail Angelo, whom in turn tells his fiance, Francesca, whom in turn, convinces Angelo to speak with the police. Fluther had warned Angelo about going to the police….

The police arrange for Angelo to wrap a wad of bills together and follow the hoodlum’s instructions to the letter. When the car drives by, a window will be down, a gun covering Angelo, and, he is to toss the bundle in the car. Unfortunately, they get wind that something is up when Angelo inexplicably steps into the street behind the car. This action would prevent them from shooting him down.

The police open fire but the car is heavily protected and the bullets fail to penetrate. The worst that occurs is the windshield stars-up and visibility is greatly reduced. Thinking he is safe, Angelo foolishly remains in the street, watching the fracas. From a secluded spot, Francesca watches everything, too. Then, the worst happens! She watches as Angelo crumples in a heap as another gangster car roars up and stitches him and the nearby police. The pair of cars make their getaway and Francesca weeps over her slain fiance.

Unable to take the emotional strain, she collapses and awakens in hospital, with her parents present. Once reality catches up to her, she becomes a hardened shell and is determined to exact retribution.

Unfortunately for the hoodlums, this is not the worst yet to come. For them, returning to base, they find that the wad of bills is nothing more than a wad of papers. They are all enraged, and worse yet, the docile Fluther mouths off to Heimer, whom takes it upon himself to beat the shit out of him. Fluther doesn’t fight like a man, and takes a wine bottle and begins carving up Heimer’s face, stabbing him repeatedly. Heimer finally collapses on the floor and Fluther has to be restrained. Fluther takes the gang under his wing, and being more intelligent than Heimer, constructs a series of successfully lucrative raids on Woptown, hitting banks, businesses, etc…

Francesca walks the streets nightly, and accidentally hits upon the territory of a local floozie, who isn’t taking it kindly that Francesca is walking her beat. They pair up and Francesca learns the area better, and where to hangout. Eventually, luck prevails and Fluther finds her attractive, and kidnaps her! Returning to the base, he locks her in a spare room upstairs, and has his way with her repeatedly (though Kelly is careful to make no actual allusions; he’d already been heavily prosecuted by the English government for his Darcy Glinto novels).

Francesca plays the floozie part, and eventually Fluther thinks she is sweet on him and okay with being locked up. She confesses to being turned-on by Fluther being a gangster, instead of a rich businessman, and guns really get her going. He shows her an empty Thompson, how to operate it, etc, and, leaves the empty machine gun in the room.

While away raiding a government train laden with money en route to the local banks, an ex-FBI agent has been performing his own investigations and is watching the hideout. When the gang depart, he kicks in the door and finds Francesca downstairs, sitting coolly on a couch, facing him, holding the Thompson. She confesses it is empty, so he calms down. They compare notes, but she does not tell him the entire truth of her circumstances. With his assistance, the Thompson is loaded and he leaves her to maintain the status quo while he rounds up the police for the final raid.

Francesca has other ideas….

The gang return, with some quarters-of-a-million dollars from the train heist. Everyone is partying hard, but Fluther has his murderous eyes on Heimer, whom he caught, on the heist, pointing his Thompson at Fluther’s back. Now, he figures the hour is ripe to kill Heimer, in front of everyone, and firmly establish himself as the leader. Heimer is accused, and goes for his armpit holster, but Fluther spits alcohol in his eyes, then beats him up and when he falls, pounces upon him and like a feral nightmare, begins ripping the flesh from Heimer’s neck and face with his bare teeth!

In walks Francesca.

She says nothing.

Just watches the scene.

Finally, one hoodlum after another begin to notice the gorgeous bombshell, calmly detached, wielding the death-dealer. And, it’s not only pointed at them, it’s fully loaded! Jaws dropping, they simply stare. Finally, the moment has come, and she hollers Fluther’s name twice; once she has obtained his attention, detaching his bloodied maw from the remnants of Heimer’s face, she informs those present who she really is and why they are about to die.

And, pulling back on the trigger, she sweeps the room from side to side twice. The last gangster in line, a quick-draw, manages to snap off some return-fire.

The ex-FBI agent and the police raid the building, only to find everyone dead. He kneels beside the girl, checks for a pulse. She’s dead cold, and praises her dead fiance as “the luckiest guy that ever did live.”

It’s a tough, hard-hitting gangster novel, heavily padded throughout, but an awful-good read, for the type of people out there that love this sort of thing.




Tough on the Wops by Buck Toler